Privacy Loses in California

San Francisco Chronicle: State privacy bill dies amid voting flip-flop. After two dozen banking and insurance company lobbyists said the measure would wreck their industry, the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee sank the bill with a 5-to-3 vote, one vote short of passage. A much stricter measure died recently in the same committee.

A week ago I asked you to contact your state legislators in support of SB 773, a bill designed to restore a semblance of privacy for your finances and other personal data. Many of you did, but the financial-services industry has yet again engineered the death of even the mildest data protections.

In a session that raised eyebrows, the Assembly’s Banking and Finance Committee voted 5-3 in favor of legislation that, while watered down considerably from its original language, would have been an improvement over the non-existent protections we have today. But the bill needed six votes, so it’s probably dead for the session.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s account of the meeting, one of the bill’s co-sponsors unaccountably abstained. Another legislator didn’t attend the hearing. This allowed the man who’d been a chief opponent, Rep. Lou Papan, D-Millbrae, to support the rewritten bill.

The events were, to say the least, puzzling. But as Dan Jacobson with the California Public Interest Research Group told the Chronicle, ‘It doesn’t smell good” — an understatement of major proportions.

In their offices today, bankers, stock brokers and insurance executives must be snickering. Until the legislature finds its spine, corporate America will continue to sell your privacy for its profit.

Not all privacy legislation is dead, however. SB 168 is moving to the Assembly Judiciary Committee and, if it passes there, the Assembly as a whole. Contact your legislator if you care at all about your privacy.


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